Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sat. Gunblogging: $1000 Part 1, .22's

"Saturday Gunblogging" posts are posts with which I indulge myself by talking about (usually) the equipment of the shooting sports. These are often topics extensively covered elsewhere in the gun world, but whatever; I like talking about 'em.

The dollars in the Garm Gun Fund have to go a long way, as they are not too many of them. So I often contemplate what kind of and how much gear (guns, ammo, accessories, etc.) I could purchase with dollar amount 'X.' As the title suggests, with this series I'm going to use $1000.00 as my budget and, using approximate costs, see how far that one grand would take me into a particular category of gun-gear. Most of the time, the posts in this series will be on the assumption that the buyer does not already own any of the equipment in that category.

For this first "$1000 Gun Collection" post, I've obviously chosen the .22. Why? Well, in my view, it's the caliber that is the foundation of many people's shooting lives. It certainly is mine. I started with the .22, under the patient, strict, and proud tutelage of my father, I shoot .22 more than any other caliber, and I think .22LR in particular is the single most useful caliber out there. Why do I think that? Well, the .22LR is first of all cheap and plentiful, thus ensuring that cheap bastards poor people like myself can afford to burn up 500 rounds on a Saturday afternoon. Secondly, it's a great training tool; teaching a new shooter the basic skills of shooting on a .22 rifle or pistol builds fundamentals and good shooting habits cheaply and easily; we don't want Little Johnny developing a flinch from that sharp-kicking .308, do we? .22LR is also, out to ranges within its performance envelope, a quite accurate and effective target/hunting round, with the proper ammunition. Yeah, those fancy AR-15 based varmint rifles are great for prairie dogs, but what if you just need to take care of some gophers in the back yard? The most important factor that ensures the modest .22's foundation status is the fact that it's fun. Shooting a .45 ACP 1911 all day is my idea of heaven, but that doesn't mean my hand won't be sore by the end of that day. The .22, on the other hand. . . well, you can shoot one of those as long as you want without worrying about your hands or shoulder complaining that night.

OK, that's enough "reasons why;" let's move on to the equipment. If someone owns no .22 firearms, where should they start?


1) A pistol, Ruger 22/45 Mark III, $300.00*
First of all, I always prefer quality over quantity. Yeah I could go find a .22 pistol dirt cheap, but it would most likely be a piece of junk. I may be on a budget, but that doesn't mean I'm going to compromise quality. Still though, one can pick up a decent .22 for relatively (when compared to centerfire firearms) good prices. There are a ton of good .22 handguns out there from virtually all the different makes, but I'm partial to the Browning Buckmark and especially the Ruger Mark III series. In fact, I've written about the Ruger before, here and here. They're both simple, reliable, rugged (especially in the case of the Ruger), and even in the lower price-range models, are very, very accurate handguns. Both are equally suited to the range and to the field.

2) A rifle, Henry Octagon .22 Lever-Action, $300.00*
Now I know this may be a weird choice to some people; "what about the Ruger 10/22, you heathen!" I can hear you saying. Well, I like the 10/22 well enough, but the Henry's only a bit more expensive, and it's well, better than the Ruger, or at least the base model Ruger 10/22's. Yeah, you can spend some serious dough and get a competition-winning 10/22, but that would be way outside the budget of this list. All the same rules regarding quality mentioned above apply to the rifle, but why not get something beautiful as well? I think the blued finish on the Henry is better than the Ruger and other .22's, you can shoot different kinds of .22 through it, its stock and its overall lines are gorgous, and its lever action is tons more reliable than just about any semi-auto rifle (again, in basic stock form). Besides, with some practice, one can shoot that lever action almost as fast as a semi. One other point: it's tube-fed, so no magazines are needed, which is a pretty big factor in light of my $1000 budget. Don't think tube-fed equates to less capacity though: it'll still hold 16 rounds of .22LR goodness. Oh, and that octagon barrel is just so damn cool looking.

The best part about both the pistol and the rifle I've chosen is the fact that although both are relatively inexpensive, both can be used for just about any subcatagory of shooting (hunting, target, training, etc.). The guns are just one half of the equation though:

3) Rimfire Rifle Scope, Leupold VX-I 2-7x28mm, $220.00*
Ever tried shooting .22 rifle at a target the size of a fist at 50+ yards with iron sights? Yeah, you'll need a scope, especially if you plan on doing any varmint hunting; they may be vermin, but they deserve just as clean a kill as that trophy buck. Besides, scopes give some versatility to your setup. Now I know you'll be tempted to buy a cheap, sub-$100 scope. Don't. Spend the money on good glass; you'll appreciate it down the road. I'm partial to the Leupold brand, myself, as I've never looked through a bad one. The 2x-7x magnification gives you good range options without going overboard.

4) Accessories, $115.00*
Hey, what are you going to clean those bad boys with anyway? This list assumes you not having squat, so you better buy a cleaning kit. Figure about $20.00 for a decent, albeit basic, kit. Oh, and don't forget about magazines; you'll want extra mags for that pistol (or if you ignore me and buy a semi-automatic rifle, you traitorous jerk, for that as well). Figure about $30.00 for two of those, more if you need some for a rifle. And with what are you going to attach that scope, hot glue and firm wishing? Tack on $25.00 for good scope rings. By the way, how are you going to secure, transport, and store those firearms? You're not going to hide them unsecured somewhere, hoping that little curious hands don't get ahold of them, thus ensuring yourself a place on the bad side of gun-safety statistics, are you? I hope not; safety before all else, after all. Plus, you need something in which to carry those guns around without scratching them into ugliness. So figure another $40.00 for an inexpensive, but functional, hard case and a padlock, or whatever, which leaves us with:

5) Ammunition, $65.00
$65 buys a TON of .22 ammo, which is great; because it's cheap, you'll burn through a ton of it, which will necessitate buying more, which means you'll burn through THAT, because, hey, it was cheap, which means. . . eh, you get the idea. Seriously though, you have some choices when it comes to .22LR ammo: High velocity, standard velocity, match, etc., and there are plenty of companies, bullet weights, etc. to choose from. I recommend you split the money, buying $40.00 worth of decent quality standard velocity, like 7 of these CCI Standard 100-rd. boxes. Then take the remaining $25.00 and buy some performance ammo, like 5 50-rd. boxes of CCI Stingers, which is my favorite .22 LR brand/model. That'll give you 700 rounds to use for plinking/casual target shooting and another 250 rounds for more serious target shooting and hunting. That may seem like a lot of ammo, but, as an example, the last time I took a .22 out, my dad and I put all of a 500 round brick of ammo down the pipe; it flowed like water. Thank God it's cheap, eh? So 950 rds. is a good amount of .22 to keep on hand; that way you can just look around some Saturday afternoon, realize you've finished all your chores and there's no decent football on T.V., decide you need head over to the indoor range and smell the cordite goodness, all without incurring the wrath of your significant other for spending ungodly amounts of money on ammo.


So that's how far you can get with $1000 in the world of .22's. Not bad, eh? A quality pistol, a beautiful rifle, a sweet scope, some basic accessories, and almost 1000 rounds of ammo to get you started. Good thing I replaced that 500 round brick I mentioned, 'cause all this talk about .22's reminds me that I've got a date with a pretty little thing with "Ruger" emblazoned on the grips.

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